Patriots

Kyle Rudolph says there was never 'any real opportunity' with Patriots

Kyle Rudolph says there was never 'any real opportunity' with Patriots

Before Kyle Rudolph agreed to a contract extension with the Minnesota Vikings on June 10, many believed he'd wind up with the New England Patriots.

The Patriots needed someone to fill Rob Gronkowski's massive shoes at tight end, after all, and Rudolph played his college ball under former New England defensive coordinator Charlie Weis at Notre Dame.

But Rudolph insists there was no real merit to reports that he'd join the Patriots other than pundits simply connecting dots.

"I don't know how real those trade possibilities were,” Rudolph told the MMQB's Albert Breer. "But, like you said, I played for Charlie. So for me, I've kind of followed that organization from afar since 2008 when I got my first Notre Dame playbook and we watched cut-ups from the Patriots offense that we were running.

"I have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for what they've done over the last two decades. But I don't know that there was ever any real opportunity there."

From a football standpoint, it appears Rudolph would have a had real opportunity to thrive in New England; the two-time Pro Bowler would have been quarterback Tom Brady's No. 1 tight end in an offense that leans heavily on the position. (Remember when Tim Wright caught a career-high six touchdowns for the Patriots in 2014?)

But it's unlikely the Patriots would have matched the four-year, $36 million contract the Vikings gave Rudolph, who clearly desired to remain with the team that drafted him.

That means New England must look elsewhere for tight end help after Benjamin Watson's four-game suspension, Austin Seferian-Jenkins' release and a failed trade with the Detroit Lions for Michael Roberts.

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Rich Eisen on 'positively absurd' Spygate 2.0

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Patriots Talk Podcast: Rich Eisen on 'positively absurd' Spygate 2.0

Like most of the rest of the NFL world, Rich Eisen of the NFL Network is amazed that we are talking about what has become known as Spygate 2.0 - the Patriots again being accused of taping an opposing teams' sideline - and the repercussions surrounding it. 

He joined Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast to provide a little national perspective on the controversy and his first reaction was how "positively absurd" it was that the Pats are being accused of the same behavior that they were punished for back in 2007.

"If the Patriots did attempt something like this again, how remarkably brazen it would be?" Eisen told Curran. "I couldn't imagine being in that press box and seeing that happen? That's what makes it so positively absurd. How does anybody that represents anything to do with the Patriots not know you're not supposed to shoot the other team's sideline?''

Eisen predicted that the Patriots' admission of a "unintended oversight" in taping the sideline of the Cincinnati Bengals while they were playing the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday and Bill Belichick's adamant denial of knowing anything about the operation, won't prevent a hefty fine from being leveled by the NFL against the team. 

I'm sure there are a lot of people who are breathing fire at One Patriot Place," Eisen said. "Even if it was a clueless botched operation, I think the Patriots get fined. They still shot video of another teams' sideline and bottom line is that's a no-no, an absolute no-no.

"I'm assuming its a hefty fine for the team that's coming."

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Eisen's comments come near the end of the episode. Former Patriots backup quarterback Matt Cassel joins Curran earlier and talks about how the original Spygate accusations back in '07 were a motivating factor for a Patriots team that went on to a 16-0 regular season.

"We were shocked at how it took on a life of its own," Cassel recalled. "It honestly was comical the way they took it, with people thinking we had it all figured out, we filmed them and we knew all their signs. The best thing that possibly could've happened is we came out for the rest of the season after the knowledge that Spygate took place and everyone saying 'That's why they won their Super Bowls' and we just dominated." 

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Week 15 NFL Power Rankings: Patriots continue to slide in AFC

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Week 15 NFL Power Rankings: Patriots continue to slide in AFC

Through 13 weeks, it’s become clear that there are six good teams in the AFC and one very good, maybe great team. The Ravens are a complete team: offense, defense, special teams, coaching, situationally smart, tough, you name it.

Everybody else has the flaw that they’ll either need to cover up or overcome in the playoffs to get past Baltimore.